Does it do what they said it would do? A consultation is underway over the performance of the Cowes/East Cowes Floating Bridge and the organisation that paid for it wants to hear from Islanders, before 28 December.

Scroll down for a link to the consultation…

Figures published by the Solent Local Economic Partnership (SLEP) on the Isle of Wight Council’s business case for the chain ferry suggest there has already been an overspend of over £2 million.

Running, but without passengers Archive Image: Ferry Spy

The break down looks like this:

Frustrated passengers argue that the current service is a far cry from the original brief.

In the first business plan, which set out the case for a £3.7million grant (paid in instalments as the build progressed) to buy the vessel, SLEP decision-makers were told that they could expect it to be out of service for two days a year on average.

In 2013/14, Floating Bridge 5 was out of service for 19 days.

The Isle of Wight Council also set out to increase the frequency of crossings by 10 per cent and to carry 20 per cent more cars.

image from Allan Marsh LRPS

The local authority forecast £17m revenue over Floating Bridge 6’s 60 year appraisal period.

It did not provide the full capital costs required to deliver a scheme considered (at the time, alongside the Red Funnel development funding) “critical to kick-starting the wider regeneration of the Southampton Waterfront and revitalisation of East Cowes town centre.

A revised business plan (over 100 pages of it) is now in the hands of Solent LEP and you can read it and comment here.  

The SLEP has refused to comment on what the outcomes of the consultation may be. However, the money was handed to the project to achieve certain aims. Isle of Wight Radio has asked if that means that serious underperformance could result in some of the cash being forfeited.

In a statement to Isle of Wight Radio today (Thursday) Solent LEP said,

“Solent LEP are consulting on a revised business case for the Cowes Floating Bridge. This is part of our usual ongoing monitoring process. Solent LEP has consulted twice previously on this project prior to confirming the funding award, in 2014 and 2015.

“Following the period of consultation which ends on Friday 28 December 2018, the Solent LEP board will consider the revised business case, consultation responses and independent due diligence of the revised business case, in line with our assurance framework.

“We are not in a position to comment further on the possible outcomes at this stage, however the consultation is an open and transparent process – a summary of the responses will be published within 12 weeks of the consultation coming to an end.”